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08 Dec 2018
Wins for Senegal, Libya and Egypt on day one in Egypt
The Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations kicked off in style as the defending champions take a step towards title retention
Defending champions see off old foes Nigeria after penalties, while hosts Egypt comfortably beat Morocco and Libya put five past new-comers Tanzania, as the sun sets on the first day of the competition here in Egypt.
Day one of the Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations 2018 had a strangely nostalgic feel about it. That was because both the final and the third-place play-off from the 2016 Nigeria edition were replayed in the opening group games here in Sharm El Sheikh.
The day began when the old rivals, Senegal and Nigeria, met in a thrilling bout that would ultimately be decided from the penalty spot…
Senegal v Nigeria
The Africa Cup of Nations 2018 kicked off in the very same way that the last edition closed – with a top-drawer showdown between two of Africa’s giants, as defending champions Senegal, met Nigeria…
The Senegalese had taken the match last time that these teams met in the competition to take the continent title and the opening match of this edition started in a similar way. Two quick-fire strikes from number nine, Diassy, saw the champs take a 2-0 lead within the opening minutes of the match. Try as they might, Nigeria couldn’t find the net before the first whistle, but played well.
The first period ended with Nigeria trailing, but they had created some dangerous attacks, including several long-range shots which had to be palmed to safety. The second period began at full throttle, and the men in green were by no means out of this tie.
After building the pressure, Ekujumi converted a sublime freekick to half the deficit and Nigeria were right back in this tie, with just a few minutes remaining of the second period. But, just two minutes later, the two-goal advantage was restored as Diange struck for Senegal, who went into the third and final period with a 3-1 lead.
Once more Nigeria came back, when a shot was laid off for Taiwo to smash past the keeper, taking the score to 3-2. And then, a fabulous header from Ogbonna, saw the number ten make an arching leap to flick the ball into the Senegalese net and complete the comeback for his side.
As the third period drew on, the scores remained level at 3-3 and it looked like extra time was a more and more likely outcome. Then, with just two minutes, Taiwo converted once more, and thought he had won it for Nigeria, before the lead was cruelly snatched once again when Barry volleyed in from close range to force extra time.
When extra time couldn’t decide the tie, it went to penalties. After Ndoye and Diassy converted twice, and Nigeria were unable to score, Senegal took a single, very hard-fought, point from the penalty spot.
Senegal will play Tanzania tomorrow to try and continue their title-defending campaign, while Nigeria will face Libya.
Goals: 1-0: Diassy, min. 9 (1); 2-0: Diassy, min. 7 (1); 2-1: Ekujumi, min. 4 (2); 3-1: Diange, min. 3 (2); 3-2: Taiwo, min. 10 (3); 3-3: Ogbonna, min. 8 (3); 3-4: Taiwo, min. 2 (3); 4-4: Barry, min. 2 (3);
PSO: 0-0: Diatta, missed; 0-0: Ohwoferia, missed; 0-1: Ndoye, scored; 1-0: Ekujumi, missed; 2-0: Diassy, scored;
Libya v Tanzania
Debutants Tanzania took on Libya in their first ever match in the Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations, a side who had previously finished in eighth position in each edition they had competed in.
But, the men in red started strongly and scored with just a few minutes gone, when Islam slammed a shot home. But the new boys were not going to go down easily, and the Tanzanian goalkeeper, Ibrahim, scored what will surely go down as one of the goals of the tournament, with a long-range missile that struck the bottom of the crossbar on its way into the net.
But then, Waleed retook the lead for Libya, and soon after that, he managed to outpace a defender and poke the ball in for his second of the game, and the difference was stretched to 3-1, as the first whistle blew.
Far from being out of the tie, Tanzania fought on and kept pace with their opponents for the majority of the second period. Having looked a little shaky in the first period they soon found their playing rhythm and before long they had reduced the difference to just one, when Ahmada netted a fine strike to make it 3-2.
A closer tie than many expected, the second period finished with the Libyans leading by a single goal. The third period was more of the same. Structured attacks from both side, which were met by solid defence, keeping the score unchanged until a Waleed throw-in was met by the diving head of Zuheir, and the lead was extended to two goals once more.
When Zuheir claimed a brace of his own, and with just a matter of minutes remaining, the Tanzanians were looking suddenly dejected as the score sat at 5-2. The superior gear that Libya moved into during the final period, put the game to bed and they go into tomorrow’s game against Nigeria on three points.
Goals: 1-0: Islam, min. 9 (1); 1-1: Ibrahim, min. 7 (1); 2-1: Waleed, min. 5 (1); 3-1: Waleed, min. 2 (1); 3-2: Ahmada, min. 6 (2); 4-2: Zuheir, min. 6 (3); 5-2: Zuheir, min. 3 (3);
Egypt v Morocco
The last time these sides met in the Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations, it was after two very strong performances in the 2016 edition in Nigeria, to decide who would finish in third place.
With ambitions to go even further this year, both teams went into this game knowing that victory today could be crucial and a loss could be disastrous. Neither side was eager to slip up against their old enemies and the pace of the game was slow, with each side preferring to sit deep and send long range efforts to test the keepers.
A number of early injuries also slowed the pace even more, as time was stopped for the players to be tended to. The play was controlled, and mistakes were rarely made, this was a contest to see who would blink first.
A super stop from M.Fawzy, who returns from injury after missing the Huawei Intercontinental Cup in Dubai, kept the hosts in the game just before the first period ended, and the rivals went into the break with the match still goalless.
The second period got underway in the same fashion, and in many ways, it was just the impressive performances of the goalkeepers that was keeping the scoreline untouched. Untouched, that is, until a beautiful piece of team play was started from the back by the keeper and was finished when Hassan volleyed a thunderbolt home to take the lead for the hosts.
A second contender for goal of the tournament on the very first day, and Egypt were leading 1-0 with under half of the match to go. With this boost in confidence Egypt gained a foothold in the match and piled on the pressure, and Morocco, suddenly on the back foot and defending desperately, were glad to hear the second whistle.
With a slender lead to defend, the hosts did their best to control the third period and not let the feisty Moroccans through their defensive line. But their best form of defence was attack, and Egypt burst into a counter attack which saw Moustafa Aly double the lead to the joy of the crowd.
Suddenly the game surged into life and the final three minutes saw five more goals scored as Elkhdym managed to find the net for Morocco, but the Egyptians took their tally to a convincing six.
Morocco were resigned to suffer the same fate as the 2016 third-place play-off at the hands of their hosts, who will rest tomorrow to get ready for their meeting with Madagascar on Monday.
Goals: 1-0: Hassan, min. 4 (2); 2-0: Moustafa Aly, min. 7 (3); 3-0: Mohamed, min. 4 (3); 3-1: Elkhdym, min. 3 (3); 4-1: M. Samir, min. 3 (3); 5-1: Shika, min. 3 (3); 6-1: Abdoo, min. 2 (3);
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